The Sharks boast one of the best backlines in the competition, but do they have what it takes to break their Vodacom Super Rugby drought? JOHN GOLIATH weighs their 2020 title prospects.
The Sharks’ backline has all the ingredients of a potent cocktail that should leave most opposition teams with a heavy babelas. Their back three is filled with lots of speed and finishing power, with Aphelele Fassi at fullback and World Cup-winning Springboks Makazole Mapimpi and S’bu Nkosi on the wings.
Inside centre Andre Esterhuizen provides the power in the No 12 jersey, while captain Lukhanyo Am brings the intelligence on attack and defence, as well as his wonderful gamebreaking ability. Alongside them, flyhalf Curwin Bosch brings speed, good distribution and a underrated right boot.
But will their pack be able to provide the type of ball for them to thrive? That could be the difference for a top season and an ordinary one for the Sharks. They have certainly made a few good signings, which will add to some of their firepower up front.
The Sharks have lost veteran Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, but have replaced him with the hungry Ox Nche, who will bring a lot of power to the Sharks’ scrum and work rate around the park. He will join Thomas du Toit in the front row to form a formidable prop combo.
Fetcher James Venter and former Stormers No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe have been added to squad for some speed in the back row, which suggests that the Sharks are going to play a much more open game this season. However, the 2m tall, 135kg lock Le Roux Roets will certainly add a lot beef to their effort.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, they don’t play the Blues and Sunwolves this season, but they do play 10 of their final 11 matches in South Africa.
Seniors they will depend on …
The experienced Schreuder needs to be that link between forwards and backs than can keep this Sharks team ticking over. He has been around a long time now and knows his game inside out. If he performs well, the Sharks could be magic this season.
With Venter and Notshe bringing the skill and the speed, Paul must bring the power and do the bulk of the dirty work. The former Southern Kings man is a top ball-carrier and can get over the advantage line. That will be key to build some momentum for their star-studded backs.
Others who can shine …
The little scrumhalf has a lot of star potential after a distinguished junior career. His cleaning at the base of the scrum is very good, and he has a lot of vision. This kid also has a very good temperament, which is needed if you want to be a top Super Rugby operator.
Le Roux Roets
The Hoërskool Garsfontein product spent some time with the Waratahs before joining the Sharks for this season. This kid is a big slab of meat, which will add some power to the Sharks’ effort, especially in the scrum.
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